Tattoo Artist Career Profile

As a tattoo artist, your work schedule, wages, and even your daily tasks will differ greatly depending on where your shop is located and what kind of artist you are. This article will outline the basic day-to-day lifestyle of the tattoo artist, including chores, salary, and hours.

Long gone is the stereotype that tattoo parlors have to be dark, dingy, dangerous places inhabited by greasy bikers and hulking gang members. Instead, as body art has risen in popularity and acceptance, modern tattoo parlors have (for the most part) become surgically-clean studios staffed with degree-holding artists. The shops must be vetted by the health department regularly, and the artists themselves must have a license.

Day-to-Day Tasks

To reach the standards of cleanliness necessary to maintain an operating license, the tattoo artist’s first and last job every day is to clean; mirrors, bathrooms, floors, walls, chairs, and most importantly, equipment. Aside from the hygienic need to avoid infection, they also want their customers to see the place as sterilely clean.

The cleaning process involves some heavy-duty items and chemicals, including industrial-grade bleach for all the equipment and medical-grade disinfectants for their working surfaces. All the needles are sealed, one-use disposables that are thrown away after a session is completed, and each artist is required to wear latex medical gloves before and during the tattoo process.

The tattoo artist has to replenish these items, make sure of their bacteria-free storage, and supervise their correct usage during the tattooing process.

Work Schedule and Day-to-Day Hours

While most tattoo parlors have hours similar to the average store (i.e. morning until mid-afternoon/early evening), the nature of the tattoo business can sometimes require an artist to work outside the set schedule. For example, if a tattoo requires multiple-hour sessions, or even multiple multiple-hour sessions, the artist might need to meet the customer early in the morning or after regular hours to meet the demand. Similarly, if an artist is in high demand, the workload created by a line of eager customers might require long hours in some cases.

However, tattoo parlors are similar to many businesses in that they are generally closed on recognized religious and political holidays and for important events.

Salary and Wages

There is no set hourly wage or yearly salary for tattoo artists, as the trade is dependent entirely on the location of the shop and the skill of the artists. However, in the right social climate and talent pool, an average tattoo artist can create upwards of seven tattoos a day, at an average price of $80 per tattoo. An in-demand artist often has the ability to pick and choose which pieces they’d like to create, and eventually begin attracting a more affluent clientele.

While the job does require some painstaking attention to detail and procedure, in the right atmosphere a tattoo artist can live an ideal lifestyle, enjoying a lucrative position while creating unique art every day.